Tuesday, February 03, 2009

from "missing persons"

Where Alberta and her family lived, it was said, there was a language of lakes that no man ever used, but a language of spring runoff and momentary creeks, as well as infrequent hailstorms; Biblical floods between seasonal drought. Alberta knew: they could be nothing less than creatures of extremes, borne from this land of extremes, and seeming contradiction.

Well after the house was dark and silent, the hail hit sudden, buckshot-hard across the aluminum spread over house and garage, and shot rain through the windows. Luckily, Emma had heard the weather reports on the radio, and put the car in for the night, protected by ramshackle shed. Staccato notes on the roof woke Alberta in her bed and kept rumbling. An erratic drum-roll for a crescendo that never could climax. An anticipation that would never fulfill. She lifted her covers, and eased in to the open window.

Though you could see a car for miles, the weather was lightning-swift, and a storm could sweep in or disappear with a snap of air, as there was nothing on the land to distract it. The only hope, to spill south, and slip into the valley and move long across the lower end of province across the cut of the river.

From the lightning flash, Alberta could almost see the buildings that sat discreetly below the rise of mute prairie. White bulbs of ice bouncing hard off the concrete floor of earth, splashing pools in the backyard and fields.

There are times, Alberta realized, she could almost see the Rocky Mountains from her window; she could feel the snow melt and run slow along eastern trails worn through rock toward her and the eventual river. Alberta a tributary of light on low horizon.

With her arms on the window-ledge, she lay low her eyes on her dead father’s quarter and rested.

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